Could you summarize the Bible in six minutes? What about in 240 words? What about in one sentence?
Tony Reinke has posted D. A. Carson’s short summaries of the Bible, including a 6-minute summary and a 240-word summary. Here’s his six-minute summary:
And here’s his 240-word summary of the Bible:
God is the sovereign, transcendent and personal God who has made the universe, including us, his image-bearers. Our misery lies in our rebellion, our alienation from God, which, despite his forbearance, attracts his implacable wrath.
But God, precisely because love is of the very essence of his character, takes the initiative and prepared for the coming of his own Son by raising up a people who, by covenental stipulations, temple worship, systems of sacrifice and of priesthood, by kings and by prophets, are taught something of what God is planning and what he expects.
In the fullness of time his Son comes and takes on human nature. He comes not, in the first instance, to judge but to save: he dies the death of his people, rises from the grave and, in returning to his heavenly Father, bequeaths the Holy Spirit as the down payment and guarantee of the ultimate gift he has secured for them—an eternity of bliss in the presence of God himself, in a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.
The only alternative is to be shut out from the presence of this God forever, in the torments of hell. What men and women must do, before it is too late, is repent and trust Christ; the alternative is to disobey the gospel (Romans 10:16; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Peter 4:17).
Reinke also points out a post by Dane Ortlund in which theologians and pastors give a one sentence overview of the Bible. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Apprenticing with Jesus to become human again. (Zack Eswine)
- The movement in history from creation to new creation through the redemptive work of Father, Son, and Spirit who saves and changes corrupted people and places for his glory and their good. (Paul House)
- Verbum caro factum est. (Mark Seifrid)
These aren’t substitutes for reading the entire Bible, of course. But narrative distillations like this can bring the sprawling, sometimes daunting scope of the Bible into particular focus.
How would you summarize the Bible in just a few words or sentences, if you were challenged to do so? If you want to give the one-sentence exercise a try, we’ve posted an open thread over on Facebook. Stop by and share your ideas!